In short: Excellent pre-turkey workout In full: 85% off-road and 15% road. A tough course with some reasonably challenging undulations and terrain (nothing like the Oxford Mail XC league though!). It's worth booting it for the first mile so you don't get held up in a queue for the stile (I didn't boot it quite fast enough!) and definitely wear trail shoes if you have them. Very well organised by Hook Norton Harriers, and nice to have the new clubhouse facility at the end. Only minor quarm was the time taken to get the results/prizes out as lots of people had left. Date of review: December 21, 2008
In short: A bit of a let down after last year In full: I ran well here last year, and although we were "only" pacing a friend this year to 1:27, I was looking forward to this again this year.
Obviously the lack of chip timing is always an issue for a race of this size, but the start this year was very bad. We were funnelled very soon after the start into a narrow cycle lane, and you couldn't really run freely until the third mile. There were lots of hairpins and switchbacks and there was a lot of running on uneven and broken surfaces, up and down curbs and across stretches of grass...
A bit of a poor memento (it doesn't bother me, but medal fans may be a little disappointed).
On the positive front, you get to run past some fantastic hovercraft and the marshaling was fantastic.
I'm afraid it wasn't enough to make us go back again though. Date of review: November 16, 2008
In short: Hilly, but worth it In full: One of the hardest halves I've run, but very well organised. Had the feel of a big city race, but the organisation was much better (probably the first time I've ever seen enough toilets!). Supportive marshals (even the guys and girls from the rest home!) and a reasonable goody bag. The hill from 4.5 - 6.5 miles wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but I didn't enjoy the slog up to the finish. I was about 2 minutes down on what I'd expect to run right now (I ran 82 minutes but am in about 80-ish shape). Only slight gripes were that despite the large amount of sponsorship, there were no prizes for the winners (except trophies) and there were no vet categories for the prizes. I'll do it again though, it was a nice morning out. Date of review: October 19, 2008
In short: A pleasant day out on a challenging course In full: A tough "nearly 10" mile course. We were warned about the hill at 7.5 miles but I found the climb up to four miles far worse as it was very exposed and into the wind (the race basically climbs for the first four miles bar one descent).
It was nice to run with the 20 milers up to 5 miles and then peel off (although the only downside to this was you couldn't work out who you were racing against unless you overtook people and looked at their race number!).
Very well organised with ample water stations and friendly and encouraging marshalls. It was nice to win some prize money too.
There really should have been more toilets though. Date of review: February 28, 2008
In short: Well organised race, a fast course and a good mix of abilities In full: A race that attracts very strong runners in both the female and male categories (which I thought was excellent) BUT also has a fair mix of abilities including a separate "race walker" category so definitely beginner friendly. A slightly undulating and twisting 3-lap course (one small and two larger laps). Very well organised and a definite addition to the annual calendar. Well worth the 200 mile round trip! Date of review: January 1, 2008
In short: Fast, flat and exemplary organisation! In full: A very well run race - well stocked drinks stations, friendly marshalls who were well briefed on what to do, good signposting, ample toilet facilities. Also very well supported by the locals. A great course - fast and pretty much pancake flat. A new pb for me (1:21:44) and finished second lady. Great prizes (down to seventh place overall for both men and women AND up to 5 prizes for each five year age category band). Date of review: November 26, 2007
In short: Tough but satisfying! In full: Found out about this at the last minute and was pleased I did. An incredibly tough course with a huge climb up to Lansdowne Monument made all the more difficult by driving, freezing rain and gales. I couldn't feel my hands or feet by the fourth mile so all credit to the marshalls who must have been a darn sight colder than me! Well marshalled, a medal memento (for those who like that kind of thing). Not a race for trophy seekers but a highly enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning. One slight improvement would be if we could use the facilities at the leisure centre next year. Date of review: November 19, 2007
In short: A challenging set of races, but great fun In full: I ran the shortest of the run choices - the 10k. For those who are criticising the navigational issues - this was actually one of the best signed races of this type I've done. Most races of this type have no signs at all, and we were provided with maps AND signage at 90% of points. Yes, I did get lost a couple of times as I had no-one to follow, but the map soon put me on the right course.
My only real gripe was being directed the wrong way where the 10k course divided from the 20k and 30k routes. I was leading the 10k and was misdirected which resulted in me making an "emergency stop" and slipping over and injuring my hand badly.
Not a race at all for PB hunters: all distances measured as slightly long on GPS devices, and the tricky terrain and multiple stiles make it a tough run. I didn't get a trophy or anything for winning the 10k, but when it's all in aid of a good cause (like the fire service) I don't give two hoots.
A great day out and thank you to Salisbury fire service for making it possible. Date of review: August 13, 2007
In short: Tough trail course in beautiful surroundings In full: To come from running mostly on treadmills to running a course as tough as this was a shock to the system BUT what an absolutely fantastic race. Beautiful surroundings, slick organisation (except the prize ceremony!) and a good standard of runners in the field.
I have a lot to learn about trail running (kamakaze style slope decents would be a great skill to learn!) but it's made me want more.
There is no doubt this is a tough course (the race was two days ago and I can still barely walk) but it is really worth the trip.
Nice to have a selection of free food (namely Mars bars and cakes) at the end to help people like me who'd literally run themselves to collapse! Date of review: June 18, 2007
In short: Fantastic race, but not for PB chasers! In full: I had my slowest 10k time for a while here (a very hot day and very big hills!) BUT this didn't bother me at all. It was a beautiful course in the Wiltshire countryside and incredibly well run by the locals. Well supported race with a large enough field for a bit of competition but small enough not to ever be congested. Results were up in the hall quicker than I've ever known and the prize ceremony was nice and punctual. Great to be able to park close to race HQ. I'll be back next year! Only VERY SLIGHT quarm was the water wasn't handed out at the water stations and, as the station was at the bottom of the hill and I was therefore running quite fast, I almost knocked all the water over as I tried to grab one off the table. Date of review: June 11, 2007